Hollander Barendrecht. Switch to lithium-ion technology.

Sector: Retail.

Challenges: Distribution of fresh produce and supply of 260 stores. Weekly storage of up to 17,000 pallets. Delivery of approx. 1.5 million trading units on approx. 30,000 roll containers.

Solution: Technology mix for maximum availability - combination of low-platform truck with lithium-ion technology (flexible charging) and electric forklift truck with exchangeable battery (maximum throughput).

Products: EXU low lift truck, EXU-S low lift truck with stand-on platform and RX 20-16C electric forklift (compact version)

STILL recently supplied logistics company Hollander Barendrecht with 23 new forklift trucks. The company handles the distribution of fresh produce for all PLUS supermarkets in the Netherlands, amongst other customers. Most of the new fleet was fitted with lithium-ion batteries. The maintenance-free technology impresses by providing maximum availability as is required by the intensive usage.

As a logistics service provider, Hollander Barendrecht looks after the storage, management and distribution of fresh and refrigerated products for all PLUS supermarkets in the Netherlands, amongst other customers. Each day, 260 businesses are supplied with goods from the fresh produce distribution centre. Eighty of these businesses receive a double delivery, making a total of 110 trips each day. Hollander has been relying on STILL for this for years. “The big picture – from proactive thinking and tailored advice through to reliable technology and expert service – is crucial for us,” explains Bart van Hengel, Team Manager Storage.

STILL the best

For van Hengel, it therefore simply makes sense to use STILL for the implementation of the current fleet renovation. “When the previous industrial truck leasing agreement expired, we issued a call for tender and looked at several providers. Once again, STILL’s offer was the one that appealed to us most this time round,” he continues. A total of 15 electric pallet trucks – three pallet trucks with stand-on platform (EXU-S) and 12 pedestrian models (EXU) – and eight electric forklift trucks (RX 20-16C) were delivered.

Availability is crucial

The workload at Hollander Barendrecht is intensive, with the company operating around the clock in seven shifts. Each week, 16,000 to 17,000 pallets are stored and 1.5 million trading units leave the fresh produce distribution centre on approximately 30,000 roller containers. “The objective is to carry out full, on-time deliveries to the supermarkets. The availability of the forklift trucks is crucial in achieving this, so reliability was high on our list of priorities,” says van Hengel.

“Experience has taught us that we can place our absolute trust in STILL to help us do this. They think quickly and always with the solution in mind. Besides that, having direct contact with our contact persons and the dedicated installers facilitates speed and operational capability.”

Lithium-ion technology

Hollander Barendrecht achieves maximum availability by ensuring that all pallet trucks are equipped with lithium-ion technology. The pallet trucks and their chargers are safely installed between the bay doors, the place that they are used the most. “The incoming goods are loaded by the lorry drivers themselves. As soon as the driver is ready, they connect the pallet truck to the charger. This is the great thing about lithium-ion technology – you can carry out interim charging of the battery with impunity so that there is always adequate energy available,” explains van Hengel. “Availability has markedly improved and interim charging is demonstrably increasing our productivity.”

“The best solution”

The new forklifts are fitted with conventional lead-acid replacement batteries. “We also explored the option of equipping forklift trucks with lithium-ion batteries. It became clear, however, that the time available for charging was too scarce due to the intensive, essentially continuous usage. The deployment of the forklift trucks is also fairly decentralised, which makes it difficult for us to keep track of interim battery charging. We also had good experiences with lateral battery changing. From both a safety and ergonomic perspective, this is the best solution for us for the time being,” explains the Team Manager.

Compact version increases safety

Amongst other things, the new forklift trucks are equipped with an ergonomic armrest with integrated joystick control, colour display and a comfortable seat. The SafetyLight warning light integrated into the protective roof and the optimised view increases safety at work.

Van Hengel: “Safety takes top priority for us. We keep this in mind at all times, both when designing the layout of the warehouse and when drafting the working arrangements we make with our employees. And, of course, we also take this into account when purchasing new technology.”

Hollander selected the extra-compact RX 20-16C model with safety in mind. The truck’s turning radius is 13 cm smaller than that of the standard RX 20-16 model. “This makes the trucks more flexible and makes manoeuvring in small aisles – with widths from 2.90 meters – considerably easier. This helps us keep collision damage to a minimum,” affirms van Hengel. “Furthermore, the fixed sidewalls of the pallet trucks with stand-on platform literally force the driver to keep within the contours of the truck. The trucks therefore provide our employees extra protection, and the risk of collisions and ankle injuries is dramatically reduced.”

Battery guarantee

The new industrial trucks are leased by Hollander Barendrecht for a period of 72 months, including a maintenance agreement and battery guarantee. “This battery guarantee is valid for both conventional lead-acid batteries and for lithium-ion batteries. If a battery unexpectedly has a fault, STILL will provide a replacement. The guarantee definitely contributes to the trust we have in the products and our partners,” concludes van Hengel.